After beating the Washington Wizards 94-88 Wednesday night, the Charlotte Bobcats jumped into the all-important sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Both the Wizards and the Bobcats stand at 40-38, but due to the fact that Charlotte won three of the four games the two teams played, the ‘Cats hold the tiebreaker.
The mood around Charlotte is at an all-time high and deservedly so. The Bobcats are on a five-game winning streak, have clinched a playoff spot, and look to be on the right track to avoiding the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers in the first round.
As of right now, Charlotte would play the Toronto Raptors in the first round, a team they have already beaten three times in three tries this season. Obviously, the win against the Wizards Wednesday was huge, as the drop-off from the Heat or Pacers is pretty severe down to the Raptors – no matter how bad the Pacers seem to be struggling right now.
However, that win against the Wizards won’t matter much if the Bobcats do not take care of business over the last four games of the regular season. The last stretch of the regular season starts Friday, when Charlotte travels to Boston to take on the Celtics. Then, the Bobcats play the Philadelphia 76ers at home Saturday, before closing the season at Atlanta and home against Chicago next week.
The Celtics and 76ers are two of the worst teams in the NBA this season, and Charlotte should absolutely win both of those games if they want to be viewed as a serious threat to get out of the first round.
The last two games are wild-cards, as the Hawks have owned the Bobcats of late, winning 11 consecutive games against Charlotte. With that game being in Atlanta, and the Hawks trying to secure a playoff berth, that game is sure to be a tough one. Regular-season finales are always tricky. The Bulls could be playing to win in order to capture the third seed in the East, or they could already be locked into their playoff position and rest some of their starters.
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The Wizards on the other hand finish their season with the following games: at Orlando Magic, vs. Milwaukee Bucks, vs. Heat, at Boston. Washington’s schedule seems to be slightly easier than the Bobcats’, as they will be the heavy favorite in three of their final four, and have already beaten the Heat once this year.
Bobcats’ fans should go ahead and mentally prepare for the Wizards to have a 3-1 record over their last four games of the season, meaning the Bobcats would also have to win three of their final four to lock in the sixth seed and avoid the Heat and Pacers.
While winning three more games is definitely possible, the Bobcats need to make sure they don’t get fat and happy after their big win against the Wizards. If Charlotte lets off the gas pedal at all, the Wizards would sure love to payback the ‘Cats by passing them in the playoff picture.
The 2014 Bobcats’ season has already been a great success no matter what happens over the next few weeks. Nevertheless, Charlotte needs to sprint to the finish in order to have a good chance of succeeding in the marathon that is the NBA playoffs.
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